Cruise Boss Tells Guests to Pay Up

One thing you can’t say about Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. President and CEO Frank Del Rio? That he’s one of those guys who only tells people what they want to hear. Proof positive? During his recent interview with Travel Weekly, the NCL boss made it clear that would-be passengers shouldn’t necessarily count on bargains any time in the near future!

“We expect to have more revenue, more passengers booked, higher occupancies and higher pricing than we did this time last year,” Del Rio predicted, going on to add that, “Right now, it’s looking very good, and the commentary that I’ve heard from my colleagues in the industry mirrors what we’re seeing at Norwegian: strong worldwide demand, which is allowing prices to rise.”

How Will Cruisers React?

This isn’t the first time the exec has pretty publicly boasted about finding ways to get more money out of passengers. In February of 2015, shortly after taking over, Del Rio told The Street, “I’m not asking for the moon, but an extra $3 or $4 per person. There are two people per room, for a seven-day cruise that is an extra $50. Can I get $50 from you and your wife to come aboard my ships versus someone else’s ships, and how do I get you to do that?”

Needless to say, message boards lit up, with many taking the CEO to task for, in essence, acknowledging that his company was in the business of making money. Obviously, this isn’t a secret, but it is something that many businesses — especially ones which revolve around people spending their discretionary funds — tend not to boast about quite so openly or frequently.

Mixed Messages

The Travel Weekly interview also featured NCL’s big cheese making a very solid point… that doesn’t necessarily stand up to scrutiny. In speaking of the line’s newest vessel, he declared, “Escape is a ship that cost nearly a billion dollars, there’s everything on her that you can possibly want on any vacation, and you can enjoy all of that for under $150 a day, per person.”

The unspoken fact of the matter? Enjoying “everything on her that you can possibly want” means spending a fair amount of money on things that aren’t actually included in that per diem he cites thanks to things like specialty dining options which cost extra. And while one could argue that passengers can eat for free in venues like the main dining rooms, Del Rio is specifically selling the false impression that all the features of this billion-dollar ship can be enjoyed for the aforementioned price.

The Bottom Line

Those looking for breaking news from the exec’s interview got, if not that, at least a promise of news to come: He revealed that early in 2016, NCL would have “a major announcement” to make, although there was no indication as to what it might be.

In the end, while Del Rio’s comments will no doubt ruffle the feathers of folks who’d rather get more for less, his words also indicated that the cruise industry is in better-than-ever shape with a bright future ahead. And that should be well-received by those who love cruising. Because to borrow a most apropos saying, “a rising tide lifts all ships.”

What do you think of Del Rio’s comments? Are you willing to pay a bit more money for a better cruising experience? How big a factor does pricing — and in particular, the ability to find a marked-down or bargain rate — factor in to your planning when booking a cruise?

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